PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of downtown Portland Saturday demanding social justice in the wake of the recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York.
The number of people participating in the march grew decidedly during the 90 minutes they walked through all sections of the city. There were about 300 who showed up for the beginning of the rally at 1 p.m. but that swelled to about 500 at one point.
The protesters were peaceful and no one was arrested.
But the most dramatic moment was when throngs of protesters entered the Pioneer Place Mall in downtown Portland and chanted “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” — the words used by Eric Garner as he was put in a chokehold by New York City police.
Mall security let the protest go for a few minutes, and then asked the protesters to leave in 5 minutes. They agreed, but used those 5 minutes in a silent memorial for Michael Brown.
They left Pioneer Place Mall chanting “Black lives matter!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” as they headed toward Waterfront Park.
Around 3:45 p.m., they returned to the Justice Center and rallied again. Protesters banged on the doors of the Justice Center and yelled, “Shut it down!”
The crowd then quietly listened to more comments and calls for unity in the face of social injustice.
The rally was over around 4:30 p.m.
Inside the march
When the initial set of speeches was over around 2 p.m. hundreds of social justice protesters then intentionally walked the wrong way down one-way streets.
“Slow it down, clog it up!” protesters could be heard yelling to each other.
The marchers walked throughout the city, clogging streets along the way. They stopped at Voodoo Doughnuts for a few minutes before turning around and marching elsewhere.
By 3 p.m., they were at Pioneer Courthouse Square where they slowed the mass transit. Portland police officials urged commuters to be patient.
After they left Pioneer Place Mall, they left chanting “Black lives matter!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” as they headed toward Waterfront Park.
Motorcycle police were stationed at the entrance to the freeways to prevent the marchers from entering. But the marchers turned and went in another direction.
Mayoral spokesperson Dana Haynes was seen walking and talking with a number of protesters.
In fact, Haynes tweeted:
When it began
The group Don’t Shoot Portland did not detail plans about the march ahead of time but urged protesters to be prepared for action.
A series of speakers spoke about their own personal experiences which led them to participating in the protest. They took part in a “unity clap” and chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Each speaker brought up the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Organizer Teresa Raiford reminded those in attendance they have the right to peacefully assemble, the right to march without a permit as long as laws are obeyed, and the right to question and take pictures of police if they begin to arrest people later.
A few speakers invoked religious themes and tones and at the same time demanded accountability with the chant, “No more accusing, excusing.”
As they marched, they chanted, “If we don’t get our justice, you don’t get no peace!”
JoeFreedom, who was streaming the protest march on UStream, said in his commentary the protests tend to last about 4.5 hours, the length of time Michael Brown was left laying in the street after he was shot in Ferguson, Missouri.
Organizers said there will be more protests, but did not say when but urged people to follow them on their Don’t Shoot Portland Facebook page.
Protesters of chokehold death rally around nation
The Associated Press
Demonstrators around the country staged die-ins, blocked roadways and marched into stores to protest a New York grand jury’s decision to not indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
Tensions were already running high around the nation because of a grand jury’s decision last week to not indict a white officer in the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. On Wednesday, more protests erupted after a grand jury in New York City decided not to indict a white officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who gasped “I can’t breathe” while he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
Hundreds of protesters marched and many briefly laid down in Macy’s flagship store, Grand Central Terminal and an Apple store. They streamed along Fifth Avenue sidewalks and other parts of Manhattan, with signs and chants of “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”
News outlets reported that demonstrators later blocked traffic on the FDR Drive in Lower Manhattan, spurring arrests. Police didn’t immediately have information on the number arrests.
In Oakland, California, hundreds of protesters briefly blocked Interstate 880, a major freeway, on Friday night. There were no immediate reports of any arrests or injuries.
In suburban New York City on Friday, about 65 demonstrators lay down on a street corner in protest. Among them were Jason Walker of Atlanta, in New York for a wedding, and his 3-year-old daughter, Jaidyn. She told her father she wanted to lie down when the demonstrators did, and she lay on the sidewalk for the full 7 minutes, occasionally covering her eyes.
In New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University, hundreds of demonstrators marched Friday afternoon from the law school to the courthouse. In New Jersey, dozens of students from Rutgers University walked through New Brunswick, slowing downtown rush-hour traffic to a crawl and forcing the city to postpone a tree lighting ceremony scheduled at Monument Square.
In Colorado, students walked out of class Friday to protest the decisions not to prosecute police in New York and Ferguson. In Aurora, a suburb of Denver, eighth-grader Bennie Mahonda walked about 5 miles to the municipal center, shouting “Hands up, don’t shoot!” to honks from passing cars. She had her parents’ permission but promised her mother she would return to class after the demonstration, which she called “social studies outside of class.”
“It makes us kids feel unsafe, that we’re outsiders, enemies of society,” Bennie, who is black, said of the decisions by the grand juries in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.
In Florida, activists marched through the streets of midtown Miami and blocked a major causeway connecting Miami to Miami Beach. In Providence, Rhode Island, several hundred people blocked downtown streets, while city police had to stop some protesters from walking onto Interstate 95 on Friday night. No arrests were reported.
The protests have been mostly peaceful.
Associated Press writers Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, New York, and Colleen Slevin, in Denver, contributed to this report.